Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I've Got Sunshine...

It's been raining all day- the heavy, dark, cloudy, and dreary kind- and though we got out to a playdate despite the weather, the conditions made the drive to and from pretty miserable. We made it back safe and sound only to find that all of the water has been slowly and surely been making its way into our basement, carpeted sections and all.

It's a stressful situation, for sure, but we seem to have it all under control, have kept the damage to a minimum, and have so many better things to be focusing on, after all.

Things like this:

Not even the best example of what she's capable of, but I'm proud to have caught it all the same. Won't be long now until I've got three out of three running round on two feet.

In the meantime, I've got to work on getting The Electric Slide out of my hand. Can't think why it would have come to mind...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Catch Her if You Can

Exactly one month and one day late, I got Mia to her 12-month physical. I'm glad to have it done with, finally, but I have to admit to having a harder time with it than I anticipated. Not only did it involve watching two of my littles go through vaccinations (Michael is a little behind and was due for Varicella), it was one more reminder of the reality I've been spending the last month trying not to think too much about.

My littlest little is getting less little every day.

The numbers are in: she's 31 inches (90th percentile) and 23 lbs (86th percentile) of almost-toddlerness. As she caught her reflection in the mirror of the exam room and announced, "baby," the very utterance from her mouth confirmed for me that she won't be staying one for very much longer.

Of course, there are so many, many good things that are happening as she ages that I conveniently forget in the midst of my self-indulgent trips down Denial Drive. I could potentially be getting a full night of sleep most nights now (if I would actually go to bed on time). Trips in the car are generally a peaceful activity. I can devote about 50% of my mealtime to eating (instead of 5% or less) now that she can shovel most things into her own mouth.

Best of all, I'm leaving a lot of the really scary stuff behind me (well, the familiar scary stuff; I'm quite aware that the future holds a whole new variety of anxieties waiting behind each new phase of life). I can relax about SIDS. I've gotten most of the early vaccinations behind me. I've spent one of the last afternoons I'll spend anxiously awaiting my child to wake from her nap post-doctor's visit so that I can confirm that she truly did not have some rare and awful reaction to her shot.

However, letting go is never a thing I've been good at doing, and embracing the changes means doing a whole lot of that.

Mia, on the other hand, is poised to do some letting go of her own. After about a week-and-a-half of showing every sign that she is physically ready once some confidence kicks in, she finally took the plunge. And after had I spent about the same amount of time trying to catch that moment, she made sure to pick a time when I could not.

It was during our evening prayer, as she clutched the heavy wooden rosary in her hand, that she took those first independent steps. Seven of them. We were mid-Hail Mary as she began, and though I did not break my recitation to make an exclamation, I let my face and hands do the communicating for me. There she was, hardly noticing what she'd done, and there I was, phone out-of-hand, and could do little more than watch with cartoonishly large eyes.

When she had finished, she plopped down on her butt to inspect the rosary more closely, as though nothing spectacular had occurred.

But isn't that how it always goes? One small step for baby, one huge leap for Mom and Dad. Hopefully the next time she takes one, I'll be ready.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mobile Moments, 4/21-4/26

We're a week past Easter and keepin' it real around here (when we're not accidentally locking ourselves in bedrooms). A long day and a late evening has left me short of words this week, so I'll skip right on to the pictures.

Optimizing Daddy time: reading and wrestling all at once.

Future architectural engineer.

Catching sunbeams...

... and "eating" the sun.

"Playing" block harmonicas.

All decked out in Daddy's shirt.

There's peaceful play when each child takes their own zone (though it seems that Abby's got her eye on Michael's).

Fighting through the post-Mass sleepies.

Succumbing to the afternoon errand-running sleepies.

Overheard this week:


In response to some small success that he enjoyed during playtime: "I'm happy for my little brother."

Between Tom and Abby

T: "Abby, you look so pretty."
A: "I know."


"Pear, please (peese), water (wawa), more, Mei Mei, Mima (Mema)"



Saturday, April 26, 2014

Easter 2014

Like every other holiday that ever comes anymore, I was not ready for Easter. However, especially given that the reality of Easter all but disappeared in the aftermath of Mia's birth last year, I was determined to truly celebrate it this time around. I had no notion of how we would get ourselves to Mass, but I was determined to try. I was pretty sure we'd never fit in the dyeing of eggs, but I was keen on organizing an egg hunt anyway. I was quite certain that our house would not be in acceptable shape to host Easter dinner for my family, but we welcomed them all the same.

As it turned out, we got to church late, but we made it there. We attended Mass from the lobby, which I was sure would make me feel disconnected but actually provided the opposite experience amongst so many similarly situated families. As I watched young children (including my own) run and giggle in the freedom of the wide open space, I felt love and community, even if I couldn't hear every word of the liturgy.

When my family arrived,  the state of the house was forgotten. We talked, connected, ate, drank, and enjoyed our time together, which we've had less of in recent months. Though Mia and Michael had some adjusting to do with the interference of the Mass schedule on ordinary naptimes, Abby was in her element all decked out in ribbon and lace.

Indeed, it was hard to say who was enjoying her Easter finery more: her, or me. Though she clearly felt and acted the princess in her delicate floral layers, I was mesmerized at the sight of her natural poise and grace as she modeled them.

For Mia, however, dressing up has always been a more complex process. Generally, the prettier the outfit, the less range of motion she has in it, chained as she still is to the floor on her knees. To make matters more difficult, I felt that her dress would not breathe well enough to nap in, so I removed it before putting her down. This meant that to get the pictures I'd had no time for in the morning, I'd have to put her back in it when she woke up, ensuring an unpleasant mood for my littlest princess.

The offer of a cracker transformed her for just long enough that I could capture some moments of her on the floor.

Feeling buoyed by the small successes, I placed her on the loveseat next to Abby for some sister shots.

I would have added Michael in if only he'd been awake (unlike Mia, he took full advantage of his naptime). I did start making plans to try again once he joined us, until this happened:

Abby got a little excitable with Mia, who suddenly got a strange look on her face.

The look led to a breakdown, which quickly erupted into a meltdown of epic proportions.

Ultimately, the true cause could have been a combination of any number of factors: Abby's overexuberance, the abundance of visitors, the lack of proper nap time, the odd schedule, the uncomfortable clothes. In the end, whatever ailed her, after an outfit change to something more comfortable and many, many minutes of soothing, she was A-okay again.

Around this time, Michael finally rejoined us. I didn't bother to try posing him in his wrinkled, disheveled (and yet, still dashingly handsome) state, especially given that his younger sister was no longer in her special Easter garb. However, I didn't want him to be missing from my digital record of the day, so followed him around a bit and tried to include him in some candids.

I did try to start angling for a casual shot of all three, but just as I got one, Abby fell backwards off the sofa and set off a new phase of temporary chaos.

Thankfully, Michael continued to amuse and inspire.

After a successful dinner had been enjoyed by all, I realized that I never did set up the egg hunt I'd so longed to do. However, supper had been sufficiently early, and the mid-spring days are now sufficiently long that there was plenty of daylight to work with yet. I hurriedly rushed out and strategically placed the ten plastic eggs we'd bought last minute throughout the back yard.

I worried that the kids would not understand the point or that they'd be disappointed that I'd never found something to fill the eggs with in time. My worries were unnecessary; one look at the joy on the children's faces as they quickly caught on to the game was more than enough to cast any fears aside.

And though I was not quite ready for this moment, I'm glad I caught it, at whatever level of quality.

Ditto for this one. Of course, I realized shortly after taking it that part of the problem was the manual setting I'd left the camera on, with too slow a shutter speed for the light level and action of the situation I was working in.

Though Mia was far too young to understand or participate, she seemed to enjoy the role of observer well enough.

As for her siblings, the fun went on long after the last egg was discovered. How could it not? The day was perfect, the sun low but bright, and the once-ordinary backyard had been suddenly transformed into a place of magic and wonder. They were eager to continue the exploration.

And as for me, I was caught in that same old balancing act: trying to record each captivating moment, both in memory and on film, and all the while attempting to be present for it all.

I'd say my efforts paid off. I finally got a picture of my favorite little man in his Easter suit.

What a guy.

What a day.

What an Easter.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bedtime: Survivor Edition

It was a typical Tuesday night. I had some vague plan to start editing Easter pictures once the kids were all tucked in, but I doubted I'd get far after a long day of solo baby-wrangling. For whatever reason, hyperactivity was in the air (for the under-four crowd, anyway), and Tom and I were having a tough time getting from point A to point B along the usual bedtime schedule.

Finally, however, we'd made our way to the top of the stairs and passed through the bedroom door, which I distractedly pulled shut behind me. As I heard the click, I just knew. We had a problem, and not a small one.

Ever since Abby graduated to a toddler bed, we've had the lock switched around to keep her in the room. Initially, it was to discourage her from wandering back out as we weathered the difficult process of training her to stay in bed of her own accord. Later, we kept it that way to ensure her safety until we had a chance to put up a gate at the top of the attic stairs, which I still don't feel comfortable allowing her to ascend or descend without supervision. Now, we are still using it overnight since Abby knows well how to operate the gate, and I fear her one day deciding to take those stairs alone for the first time in the middle of the night. Not least of all, though, it remains in anticipation of the day that Michael breaks loose- although he may not know it yet, he could easily scale the side of his crib at any time, and I'm quite sure that when I least expect it he will attempt to do so.

Because Tom and I are both heavily involved in the entirety of the bedtime routine, and because we shut the door behind us when we enter the bedroom to keep distractions to a minimum, we must always take care to check the lock. We're generally very good about it, and the one time that we weren't the neighbors were luckily home and amenable to popping by to let us out.

When the first occurrence finally happened, I'd been saying for awhile that we should hang a key somewhere in the room. We did actually locate that key shortly after, but it never did get brought up to the bedroom because we determined around the same time that someone had stuffed paper into the lock, rendering the key rather useless. What followed was some unfocused discussion about getting a new lock altogether.

Ultimately, no action was taken, and that was the first regret that came to mind when I lifted my hand from the doorknob that evening. Immediately, I grabbed a hold of it again to confirm my worst fears: it had, indeed, been locked when I shut it. Catching Tom's eyes, I did not initially read a whole lot of concern in them. "We'll just call someone," he said. "You have your phone, right?"

Though most nights I do, since I like to mess around on it while Tom reads to the kids unless I'm otherwise needed, I had left my phone downstairs that night when I saw that Michael had picked a story of his own that he would likely want read to him as Abby listened to the one of her choosing from her father's lap. It was my second regret of the evening, though truthfully I'm not sure if our friendly neighbors were even around to help this time.

As Tom stood, stunned, I began opening closet doors and drawers searching for tools we could put to use. Tom seemed to think it would be too difficult to kick down the door from the side we were on, not to mention the fact that we wanted to avoid the frame damage and possible nightmares for the children after watching us wreak havoc in their bedroom. I found some drawer handles and random screws, but not much else.

Tom followed suit and picked up a heavy cardboard tag still attached to the large stuffed tiger in the corner. The tag was thick and hefty, but not as sturdy as a credit card, so he couldn't get it to push the latch back in as he slid it between the door and frame. I was a bit skeptical that it would even have worked with plastic; isn't that something that only happens in movies?

I turned my attention to the hinges, instead. The lower one looked promising but the top one was well stuck. However, since they seemed to be our only option, we set about trying to work them out. Amazingly, Tom did get the bottom one out with very little effort, but the top would not budge despite multiple attempts from both of us using screws and door handles as leverage.

As I tried to quell my growing panic, Tom began to pull at the one loose section of the door, getting it to come slightly ajar from the bottom hinge. Interestingly, the children did not seem to pick up on our alarm and were keeping themselves well-occupied and happy as we frantically worked to free ourselves. It probably helped that as I searched the closet, I was tossing out random books that they had not seen in a long while and depositing them in the middle of the floor.

Once we had pulled the door as far out from the hinge as we could, Tom returned to the handle side and tried to work at the latch again. The tag was still not doing the trick. Suddenly, I noticed that Tom was wearing a belt and suggested that maybe some part of it might be useful. He took it off and tried to slide the narrowest part up and down in the same way that he'd been using the cardboard tag, to no avail. It was a little too thick to wedge between latch and frame.

I, however, was more interested in the leverage it could provide. I asked for a turn and set about using the center piece of the buckle to press the metal frame of the latch further into the wood of the door. I hoped that if I could budge the frame, the latch would come with it. Unfortunately, I started off a little too timid, and was about to throw that idea out after a few attempts when I suddenly felt a little bit of give. Just one more good push after that and I found myself flying headfirst into the door frame as the door swung forward and out.

Thankfully, my glasses took the hit and stayed in one piece despite the abuse. Though Tom was rushing to my side to make sure I was okay, I was looking at one thing: the light from the now-accessible hallway. We were free.

Of course, there were still bedtime stories to be read and bedtime songs to be song, and somehow, we did them all. And when we finally made our way downstairs to settle in our usual nighttime spots, I felt far from interested in doing much at all with those Easter pictures. Somehow, the lack of motivation has haunted me all week.

As for that key, we really will be getting on that, I promise. Until then I will most certainly be triple-checking that doorknob, and keeping my phone with me at all times. After all, there's no one on the other end of the baby monitor listening out for Mommy and Daddy if they cry...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Warts and All

I've been a big fan of Jill Krause over at Baby Rabies since shortly before I started blogging myself. I've followed her latest pregnancy, admired her lovely photography, and marveled at her creative crafting ideas. Today, I've decided to link up with a Blog Hop that she's hosting because it's a theme that's near and dear to my own heart: A Slice of Perfect in Our Messy Reality.

Messy isn't really even the word for my reality, to be honest. I've long since given up on doing more than the bare minimum when it comes to household demands; the more urgent demands of my three very young children take precedence, and I don't have much energy left to work with once those have been fulfilled. However, I do still try to keep up appearances to the best of my ability, and I do still struggle quite a bit with insecurities over my losing battle with clutter and chaos (among other things).

I had fun with this photo challenge for a couple of reasons, the first being that for once I made an effort to shoot with the goal of optimizing the background in mind. Since by now I'm sure my tiny band of readers is all too familiar with the level of disarray that takes over my home the vast majority of the time, I've never made much effort to hide it before. That being said, I've never tried to capture it, either.

This brings me to my second reason. I can't say I'm proud of the general state of my dining room, but I will say that it feels rather freeing to "put it out there," just as it is right now. It's even a little exciting, offering up a little slice of life around here on a random Tuesday afternoon, a glimpse into what we're really all about- warts and all.



Of course, as good as such blatant honesty feels, I'm still thankful that the photograph can't pick up detail on the eternally sticky floor, or the seemingly unremovable layer of grime on the booster seats and high chair.

And I couldn't help but think, as I finally sat down to eat inhale my lunch while uploading photos, entertaining Mia and chatting with Abby as Michael (blessedly) started his nap, that the second portion of the whole process would be a far more interesting part to document.

A challenge for another day, perhaps.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mobile Moments, 4/14-4/20

Easter finally arrived, and though I've spent weeks fretting about just how much we were going to be able to organize for the benefit of the children, how we would manage to get everyone dressed and out the door to church, how we would also get the ham done and host the family dinner, and a hundred other related details, I have to say that the day went brilliantly after all.

Nana and Papa played the role of Easter Bunny, providing rather lavish baskets that we only needed to put out on the dining room table the night before. Though we never managed to work in dyeing any eggs, I did have Tom pick up a few plastic ones to hide around the back yard for our own personal egg hunt (pictures to come later this week)

Decking the children out in their Easter finery (also courtesy of Nana and Papa) on the morning of did take time, and combined with the extra festivities during breakfast, made us predictably late for church, but the effect was quite stunning. Each one looked quite the picture, and I only which I could have captured one of all three, lovely as they all were.

Of course, Easter and the preparation for it is not the only thing that's been going on around here. We've been enjoying the occasional spurts of good weather, and ironing out a new/old schedule that's helping the littlest of us get some better sleep. In the midst of everything, Abby proved her new-found playground prowess, Michael's been showering us with new words and finding confidence in expression through song, and Mia has learned a new trick (that will likely soon lead to one of the most exciting of all).

My see-saw sweetie.

Ring around the rosie..

Boogieing to flashing lights and computerized tunes.

I wonder if she even realizes she's doing it- standing unassisted.

Michael wants a puppy; Mia thinks she is one.

Tiny gentleman.

My two favorite boys. Ever.

Princesses playing princesses.

Abby meets some lobsters in the seafood aisle.

Miss Independent.

Rocks in a row.

The Easter Bunny came!

Easter Bunny decided to stay for breakfast.

Sugar and spice and all that's nice...

Tom's first attempt at Salade Lyonnaise + our rarely-used china = visual perfection. (Tasted it, too.)

Mei Mei now carries on the Lamb Cake tradition (a good thing, too, since I sorely lack the time).

Digging in, at last.

Overheard this week:


Upon tasting the cereal with added blueberries that her father prepared for her breakfast: "This is
amazing! It's like a party in my mouth!" (Borrowed, I'm sure, from Curious George 2, the movie.)

After preemptively assuring the children that we'd cut into the hind part of the lamb cake first: "I want the face!"

Between Tom and Abby

T: "How are you doing, Abby?"
A: "I'm good."
T: "No, you are well."
A: "No, I'm good."
T: "When we feel good, we say we are well."
A: "Well, I'm great!"

A: "Why do people eat lobster?"
T: "Because it's so delicious."
A: "Well, you have to take the eyes off. And you have to take the rubber bands off. And you have to take the skin off my lobster when I eat it.
(A few minutes later)
A: "Why do some people eat lobster?"
T: "Because it's delicious. I eat lobster but Mommy doesn't."

A: "Why not?"
T: "Because it's a lot of work to get it out of the shell."
A: "If you break the shell, then she can eat it!"

Between Abby and a Wegmans cashier

Cashier (noticing the oft-worn tiara in Abby's hair): "Oh, is this a little princess?"
Abby: "No, I'm a big princess!"
C: "Oh, I'm sorry."
A: "No, my little sister in real life is a little princess."


Spoken: "Dora, stay, day, map, sauce, cracker, shelf"
Sung: "Row, row, row (from Row, Row, Row Your Boat) door (Love is an Open Door), go (Let it Go) on, (...let the storm rage on!) snowman (Do You Want to Build a Snowman?)" Can you tell that he likes those long, sustained notes?


"More, done, rawr, mwaa (kissy sound)"